Heal Zimbabwe welcomes the order by the Constitutional Court on the need for the Ministry of Justice, Home Affairs, Defence and the Government of Zimbabwe to implement Section 210 of the constitution. This key provision provides for an Independent Complaints Mechanism that must be operationalized through an Act of Parliament. Once operational, this key mechanism will receive and investigate complaints from members of the public about the misconduct on the part of members of the security services and for remedying any harm caused.
On 23 September 2020, the Constitutional Court issued an order in favour of Hilton Chironga and Heal Zimbabwe Director, Rashid Mahiya compelling the government to gazette a Bill for the Act envisaged by Section 210 of the Constitution by the 9th of November 2020. The court order comes at a time when the government of Zimbabwe has delayed implementing critical provisions within the Constitution. The Concourt order was issued after four and half years after which the hearing was heard. Over the years, the Zimbabwe National Army and the Zimbabwe Republic Police have committed several human rights abuses which are yet to be accounted for. Commenting on the Concourt order, Chironga highlighted that, “The order to compel the government to gazette a Bill for Section 210 is a relief for survivors of violence, spanning from as early as 1983 throughout to the 23rd of September 2020 when the order was issued. Since 1983, our uniformed services have been active in committing heinous atrocities and the individuals have not been held to account. I hope when finally institutionalized, the Independent Complaints Mechanism will bring a never again era in which our soldiers and police officers will not shoot at unarmed civilians, harass or torture civilians and escape justice.”
This order comes at a time when the country is witnessing cases of abduction and torture of citizens allegedly by members of security services. The recent case being that of the Zimbabwe National Student Association (ZINASU) President, Takudzwa Ngadziore who was abducted and tortured by alleged members of the security services while delivering a press conference. Before Ngadziore’s case was a case of Tawanda Muchehiwa, nephew to Zimlive Editor, Mduduzi Mathuthu who was abducted by state agents and was subjected to torture and all sorts of degrading treatment for three days. The evidence of his abduction by members of the security services was captured on video but to date; no one has been held accountable over the abduction.
For the past 10 years, Heal Zimbabwe has worked with survivors of state sponsored violence particularly from the 2008 violence. In the engagements, survivors have highlighted the need for justice or compensation for the inhumane treatment and abuse they suffered at the hands of security personnel who were leading a crusade of eliminating opposition supporters and human rights defenders during the violent 2008 elections. They also echoed the need for Zimbabwe to implement a raft of security sector reforms, including investigating and prosecuting members of the security service who are involved in human rights abuses.
In light of the court ruling, Heal Zimbabwe will mobilize survivors of past state sponsored violence and other citizens who have suffered at the hands of members of security services to participate in Bill hearings for the Act and ensure that they engage the Independent Complaints Mechanism reporting their experiences.